DEL MAR — Three conceptual layouts for a new City Hall complex were presented at a June 1 meeting, during which council members and residents weighed in on which option they prefer and why.
“This is the first opportunity for us to share with you some of our earliest ideas for a Civic Center,” Mike Jobes, principal architect with Hull Miller Partnership, said. “We’re here tonight to check in with you to see that we’re on the right track and to get your input to prioritize the next steps.”
Jobes said a May 4 meet-and-greet provided his team with three major themes that helped guide the design.
The center should be the public heart of Del Mar, fit within the context of the village and residential neighborhood and provide flexibility to allow for a range of future expansion.
All designs include a 3,200-square-foot Town Hall that can accommodate a variety of functions, a 15,000-square-foot outdoor plaza, 9,250 square feet of administrative space, between 11,000 and 20,000 square feet of space for expansion and 160 parking stalls.
Buildings in each scenario would be 65 feet away from the western property line to avoid impacting residents in that adjacent neighborhood.
Addressing the parking requirement first, Jobes said three options were analyzed based on criteria such as height limit to the west, traffic circulation and cost.
He said the clear winner was building an underground garage over one-third of the site, with 55 spaces on each of two levels and 50 stalls on the surface. Residents and council members agreed and the architects were authorized to move forward with that part of the plan.
In the concept A design, the City Hall and Town Hall are on the west end of the property on top of the parking chassis, with the plaza fronting Camino del Mar. Pads for about 16,000 square feet of future expansion are on the corners of the lot.
This scheme takes advantage of oceans views from the City Hall and Town Hall and places the plaza front and center, so events such as the farmers market would have increased visibility, Jobes said.
Concept B is similar but has City Hall centered on the west end of the site, with more open spaces to the north and south. The Town Hall is in the southeast corner, and the plaza takes up the remaining space along Camino del Mar.
This design allows for about 16,500 square feet of future expansion space.
“Concept C takes a different turn in that … it has more of a central sort of a civic plaza bracketed by two pieces of the program, the City Hall and the Town Hall,” Jobes said.
The building is U-shaped and backs up to 10th Street, with City Hall on the southeast corner and a courtyard connecting it to the Town Hall. The plaza is L-shaped and provides public views to the west. The expansion space is smaller, at about 13,400 square feet.
A 30-minute open house following the presentation gave residents an opportunity to see the plans on large boards set up in the parking lot and discuss them with the architects.
During that time and the public comment period about a dozen of the approximately 40 people on hand provided input on which option they prefer and why.
Phyllis Cardon, who lives directly west of the site — she said her bedroom window is 5 feet from the property line — is one of two people who favored concept B. She said she has concerns about noise from Town Hall activities and that’s the only one in which the building fronts Camino del Mar.
Charlie and Marilyn Wheeler, who live on 10th Street, said they like the layout because it is well-balanced.
Five people said concept A would be their first choice primarily because it provides more open space and flexibility for future expansion.
Six others favored option C because of the views the corridor provided plaza, that is open to the west.
Council members were less committal about their choices. Don Mosier said they each had positive and negative attributes and he envisioned the final product being a hybrid of all three.
He said his least favorite layout was concept C.
Sherryl Parks agreed, but favored option B. Terry Sinnott and Dwight Worden said they needed more time to digest the information, while Mayor Al Corti said he felt good about any one of them.
Several members of the Del Mar Historical Society, wearing stickers that read “Bring Our House Home” in reference to the Alvarado house, said concept A provided a perfect spot for the historic building on the corner of 10th Street because that is the roadway where it originally stood.
It is temporarily located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Sinnott said it was time for council members to “fish or cut bait” in terms of making a decision on where the house should go, either on the City Hall site or the Shores property a block to the south.
Some of his colleagues agreed, while others said that decision should be made after the Shores master plan is completed in about a year.
In response to requests from some residents, there was a discussion about increasing the size of the Town Hall to accommodate large functions or theatrical performances. Mosier said he would not support changes that would significantly increase the cost or impact the schedule.
Jobes said he will use input from the meeting to narrow the conceptual plans down to one or two that will be presented at the June 15 meeting. He said they will likely be a hybrid scheme that takes from the best of the three.
Worden said he might need time after that to make a final decision.
“I don’t want to come in again and see it for the first time and not have a chance to talk to constituents,” he said. “Of all the things we do as a city this is not the one to short change in terms of taking our time to get it right.
“I appreciate the schedule. I don’t want to delay it,” he added. “But if we come back in two weeks and I see a brand new plan for the first time I’m not going to be ready to just pull the trigger on it.”